Meet the aspiring rapper who plays one — two, actually — on TV
Art imitates life imitates art for Precious Way. She is not just an aspiring rapper, but she also plays two of them — that’s right, two — on TV: Jojo on ABC’s drama “Queens” and Luscious T on ALLBLK sitcom “Partners in Rhyme.”
A lot of rappers can only dream of being featured on songs, much less TV shows, with her co-stars MC Lyte and Brandy. But the dream has come true for Way, who initially tried acting just to do something different.
“I was rapping, and I was having a good time with it,” she said. “And I just hit a place in my personal life where I was kind of uncertain. And a friend of mine introduced me to an acting class and it became so fun and therapeutic and I fell in love with it … . Something about it just instantly clicked for me.”
As MC Lyte returns to TV, we offer a guide to her new show, “Partners in Rhyme” — and nine other ALLBLK series worth a look.
Another thing clicked too: a job description that she could have written herself and a national casting call for “Partners in Rhyme” via the American Black Film Festival in 2020.
“They were looking for a girl that is an actress and she’s rapping. I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, they have to pick me, that has to be me.’ I’m a very determined person. So, I went round for round, audition for audition, and I just kept at it. And then I got it. And I cried, I was so happy. I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is the break that I’ve been waiting for.’ So it really was like dreams come true.”
Way talked with The Times about playing characters that are true to herself, that “Queens” finale bombshell and what dreams may come.
What’s it like playing the same character type at the same time in two very different shows?
It’s exciting. On the outside, they do appear a lot similar with the music aspect and everything else, but I feel like inside they’re a little different from each other in terms of maturity.
Well, which character is closest to Precious Way?
Oh, that’s a good question. Oh, that’s hard. Because I have my days. I’m loud, I’m outspoken. I’m really, you know, upbeat and fun. So, you know, in that way, I’m a lot like Luscious Taylor. But then there are times when I’m just into myself, and I’m kind of overthinking and analyzing things. And I’m just very strong-willed. And I feel like that’s all Jojo. So it’s really both. [Laughs] It depends on the day and the situation.
Your first TV role was on “Days of Our Lives,” but then you left it for “Partners in Rhyme.” Tell me about that change.
I got the role on [“Partners”] first, but due to COVID and everything, there was time [before] that started filming. I was still auditioning. And so that’s when I found out I got “Days of Our Lives,” and it started to film and air before “Partners.” It was the perfect thing to happen to me because that is so fast-paced, you have to learn that dialogue. It’s a daily thing. And you know, the people who do it are so professional, and they’re already in that mix, and they just flow with it. Now I’m able to learn and retain material so fast. Even when I’m able to do a job that’s a little more slowed-down, my brain is still on that speed.
What that also has done for you is that you’re associated with three icons. Brandy plays your mother on “Queens,” Jackée Harry played your mother on “Days” and MC Lyte plays your aunt on “Partners.” Is that daunting?
I’m just so overjoyed. And I’m always grateful to be opposite them or, you know, be in their presence. Even when we’re not working, I’m paying attention and trying to soak in the notes and the knowledge. Sometimes I have that moment where I’m like, “Wait, is this really happening?” I’m honored.
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You’ve said as a rapper, “I want to leave my mark in this game.” Have your dreams changed?
I don’t really think about that outcome as much. I just know what I want. I think about more of what’s going on now and how I’m going to be able to do more characters that are different from each other. And how does it tell stories for other people and help them through things.
So let’s talk about the finale of “Queens,” in which there’s a reveal about Jojo, who has been missing in the last couple of episodes. Your character went from being a piano prodigy to finding out who her father was to chasing a rap career. And now this …
Through the whole season, Jojo and her mom have had this really fractured relationship. As soon as it seems like they’re getting to a good place, Naomi kind of makes a way to do something else. It’s just this continuous ride. And then she’s developed such a good relationship with [her father] Eric. And all of them are bonding. And making way to this episode, you know, there is the question of paternity and who really is Jojo’s dad, which is what she’s been wanting to know since day one. Because that was the one thing that her mom has kept from her all this time. And now that thing that she feels fulfilled about is in question yet again.
It does seem as if acting has overtaken rap for you. Are you still working on new music? Do you still want to be the rapper who goes down in history, like the characters in the video for your seemingly prophetic song “Watch Me Go”?
Acting has completely stolen my heart. And I’ve been very busy. I’ve gotten so lucky to where, you know, the role that I’m doing currently, I’m doing both — I’m acting and I’m able to do my music. So that’s kind of satisfying me for at the moment. But I am actually working on my EP as well with hopes to release it in the summer.
So you’re all in on the acting, huh?
[Laughs] Well, I will tell you that I’m currently filming a movie. Myself and Michael Jai White. It’s a thriller. It’s been very fun so far.
You say “Michael Jai White” and all I hear is “martial arts”?
There’s some of that in there. And I’ll be doing the same. It’s been a little tough because we were finishing up filming “Queens,” but yeah, it’s been really cool. It’s very physical. That aspect is something new to me. So, I’m very excited to try something different and so far I’m loving it.
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